Figuring out how to study for the MCAT, create a balanced schedule, and prepare effectively can be a daunting task, so we’ve gathered up some helpful tips and resources to help you get started!


Creating a Study Schedule

In general, it is recommended that you spend 3-4 months studying for the MCAT, especially if you are looking to score in the higher percentiles. When making arrangements for your studying, it is important to set a balanced, feasible, and sustainable schedule that accommodates your other time commitments, such as work, volunteering, classes, etc. While everyone’s day-to-day activities look different, here is a helpful schedule that gives you a better idea of what a good study schedule looks like! It is also important to note that in your last few weeks of studying, you should aim to complete a number of full-length practice exams. The most accurate ones come straight from the AAMC, but there are many prep companies that also have full-length practice exams to purchase.

General tip: if you are getting within a few points (+/- 2 points) of your target score in your final full-length practice exams, you should be good on test day!


Practice Exams and Paid Resources

There are many prep companies and websites that offer practice full-length exams as well as other paid resources, such as online courses, question banks, and tutoring. Here is a comprehensive list of some websites to look at! Most prep companies (Blueprint, Altius, PR) also have free diagnostic practice exams! However, take this with a grain of salt since each company’s scoring is different.

  • AAMC
    • Practice exams are the most representative of the MCAT.
    • The full bundle (4 exams + question packs) is highly recommended!
    • They also offer a free un-scored sample exam.
  • Blueprint / NextStep
    • Each practice exam has 5 attempts, so you can use one account and split the cost with friends!
  • Altius
    • Their practice exams are fairly representative of the actual exam. They also offer online courses.
  • Kaplan
    • Offer online self-study programs of different bundles/prices
    •  Live online two-month course (as recommended by an advisor)
      • Resources 
        • They provide online practice tests, a complete 7-book MCAT Subject Review Set, a question bank that can be divided into different sections of the MCAT/topics within the sections, optional channel sessions focusing on specific concepts (ex: thermodynamics), and a study plan to go with the flow of the course. See this link and scroll to see all the features. 
      • Before class: content review (mostly done by yourself)
        • Every session, you are to complete a diagnostic quiz that gives suggestions on what topics you should focus on and videos to help you review before class. 
      • During class: MCAT strategies 
        • Instructors go through high yield questions. They teach you how to read the passage, what to look for, the types of questions asked, and the types of answers choices that are usually right/wrong. However, they do not emphasize content review during class.
  • Princeton
    • They offer many types of courses, including winter boot camps, self-paced schedules, and tutoring.
  • UWorld (question bank)
    • Different bundles: free 7-day trial, 90 days, 180 days, 360 days
    • Questions (both passage and individual content) for Orgo, Gen Chem, Physics, CARS, Biochem, and Bio.


Review Books and Other (Free) Resources

In preparing for the MCAT, content review is still very important and can be done in a variety of ways. Here are a few suggestions to get you started.

  • Kaplan 7-Book Subject Review (most popular)
    • Edition doesn’t matter very much as though the content is similar across all.
    • You can usually find a discount or buy a used version for a reduced price!
  • Princeton Review and many others

General tip: the practice questions in some of these review books tend to be more detailed than you’ll see on the actual MCAT. It is more useful to use these books for content review as opposed to full-length exams.

  • Psych/Soc Content Review Document (300 and 90-page versions)
  • Anki – MilesDown MCAT Decks (Ortho528/premed95/miledown)
    • Reddit MCAT section (use with a grain of salt)
  • Khan Academy videos
  • Dr. Ryan Grey’s MCAT podcast
  • MPrep Daily Questions, Kaplan, BluePrint – question of the day sent to your email
  • Jack Westin – daily CARS passages sent to your email
    • The website also has passages and content review questions for the other sections too.


It’s no doubt that studying for the MCAT can be overwhelmed and stressful, but even the smallest of organization and structure can make your studying more bearable and effective. No matter where you are in your MCAT journey, just know that this time will pass and your hard work will pay off!

Feel free to read any of our other blog posts on the MCAT for more helpful tips.

At the end of the semester, senior advisors and members of PMH E-board took part in an internal Q & A. They answered questions asked by our junior advisors and gave some helpful tips from their personal experience. Below is a summary of the questions and their responses.

This is the first of a continuing series with the Pre-Med Hub.


Q: Do you have tips for writing your personal statement?

  • Start creating an outline of what you’d like to write about. Think about the story you want to share and make sure to focus on telling why you want to be a physician. This takes a lot of time and effort so make sure to start as early as possible. Talk to pre-med advisors who give you feedback on your drafts. Look at sample essays online for reference. They can be helpful in giving you examples of good and bad essays. 
  • Visit Medical School HQ run by Dr. Ryan Grey
    • Dr. Ryan Grey is a physician who critiques personal statements that students send in. He emphasizes that the question you should focus on answering is why you want to become a physician (i.e. don’t just list activities you’ve done). He also has podcasts and a youtube channel!
  • It’s better to take your time writing your personal statement rather than rushing it so that you can give it to your letter of recommendation writers (if they ask for it). It’s also acceptable to say that you don’t have a personal statement to share and ask to meet multiple times so that you can explain your experiences/who you are.


Q: When should I start writing my personal statement? I plan to take a gap year and apply my senior year.

  • It would be helpful to start early, for example, have an outline ready in February and get feedback in March. It’s not impossible to start in March or April, however, it will be more stressful having to balance writing your personal statement while also getting other parts of the application ready.


Q: I’m taking the MCAT this summer. Would you recommend taking any specific courses at UM beforehand?

  • Besides thetypical prereqs (gen chem, orgo, physics, biochem, pchem, psychology, sociology), upper-level biology labs are good courses to take before the MCAT because they help you better understand the passages of the bio section of the MCAT. These passages require you to analyze an experiment, extrapolate from the data given, and interpret the information that’s in the graphs or tables. Many upper-level bio labs can make your understanding of the passages easier and expose you to certain techniques that could aid your comprehension of these passages.
  • Reading scientific articles and analyzing/discussing the figures and results with lab members or peers could help you get familiar with the analytical skills required for the bio/biochem section of the MCAT.


Q: What do you wish you knew before taking the MCAT and what resources helped you while studying?

  • Take some time to familiarize yourself with the logistics of the MCAT. There are a few technical things that are good to know about before test day (ex. putting your phone in a plastic bag, scanning your fingerprint, what the process is for taking breaks, etc.). Knowing these small things ahead of time can help decrease your nerves on test day!
  • There’s a great resource called UWorld. It’s an MCAT question bank that many find helpful for studying. Khan Academy is also very helpful, especially for the psych/soc section videos.
  • Khan academy psych/soc resource: 85-page document of all the psychology/sociology info you need to know for the MCAT. This was very helpful!


Q: How do you use UWorld?

  • I did blocks of 25-50 questions and then identified which sections I did poorly on. It was important to understand why I got questions incorrect. Then, I made flashcards and did a heavy review on the topics I was weakest on. 
  • Make sure you know what and why you get something wrong. Creating flashcards of the questions you missed is helpful for reviewing content.
  • If you are short on time. focus on areas that you are weakest on. Create an excel sheet with all the info you get wrong and the reasons for why you got them wrong.


Q: How do you create your school list and how many schools did you apply for on average?

  • The best way to start is to generate a long list of schools whose missions you align with. Aim for about 20-25 schools on your list. Search what their values are (ex: are they research-oriented? Do they care most about community service, public health/policy, underserved communities, etc.). 
  • UseMSAR. It’s a subscription resource that lists admitted students’ data (such as average MCAT, GPAs, number of students they take in state and out of state) as well as tuition, mission statements, dual-degree programs, etc. for all U.S. medical schools.